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  1. Shipping Paintings - An Experiment ( Part 2 / 2 ) CollexArt recently awarded Jeanne Golightly a Purchase Award for her painting "Long They Wait, Hope Series No. 17", a 30" x 40" Oil on Canvas. As part of the award we wanted to provide her with a shipping box and packing materials. In Part 1 of this article we described how we sourced a box and shipping materials we thought she could use to send us her work . In this segment we document how the box made it back to us and some of the shipping considerations. The shipping steps and materials in this document are not a recommendation or a tried and true shipping method. If you incorporate any of the information from this article you do so at your own risk, knowing that none of this information has been previously tested, and came from our experiments. The boxes we sent in Part 1 of this post arrived at their destination with enough integrity that she could re-use them to ship the original artworks back to Maine. This is how they arrived in Maine. We were satisfied with the performance of the shipping boxes and how the packing materials protected the original art inside. Removing protective glassine sheets from the original artwork. Selecting a Shipping Carrier We looked at various carrier options to ship our oversized items. The most economical option was FedEx Home Delivery which is similar to FedEx Ground service. The original shipment from Maine to Georgia took 6 days to arrive and the cost for sending the box and packing materials was under $70 (early 2020). The following is a similar FedEx shipment document for another art box delivery. This time it went from Maine to Los Angeles, and the cost increased only a few dollars. The time to deliver the above box to Los Angeles was also 6 days and the cost is approximately $82 (early 2020.) Please note that we have no affiliation with FedEx and there may be other carriers that offer similar or better rates. Creating Prepaid Labels and Sending them by Email For the return shipment from the artist's studio in Georgia to us in Maine, we issued a "return" label with a pickup option. The FedEx Ship Manager online application allowed us to save the shipping label as a PDF file which we then sent to the artist. The cost of the return label was comparable to the original shipping label, but this time the pricing was affected by additional variables as the box was no longer 19LBS and it had a valuable piece of art that needed insurance. The cost nearly doubled, but it was still very reasonable (some alternative shipping methods were 3 time more.) Artwork Size Considerations When you ship very large boxes, you have to take into consideration dimensional weight which will differ from actual weight. and usually results in a higher shipping fee. There are a number of online dimensional weight calculators, but the best way to determine it is to use each carrier's shipping calculator. When we tried this we noticed that FedEx was significantly less expensive than other carriers. This could be attributed to the type of account we obtained which, at least in our case, was discounting the shipping costs. The other carriers were basically offering "retail" pricing which can be 3X higher or more. In Part 1 of this article we prepared boxes for canvas paintings. Recently we had to prepare another similar box, but this time it was for unframed flat paper based art. Unlike a stretched canvas, paper based art work needs dimensional support. For this purpose we fabricated an oversize 36" x 36" art portfolio with elastic straps. Here is what it looked like: We used cork handmade eyelet reinforcements and metal eyelets to guide the elastic straps. This is what the portfolio looks like when it is open: Notice that the portfolio is covered with glassine acid free sheets to protect the flat paper art. Portfolio with 2" of bubble wrap on both sides. After this step we sealed the bubble wrap to prevent any humidity from reaching the portfolio's contents. We then added cardboard reinforcements (not shown) just before we inserted everything into the shipping box. Our Results Thus Far Shipping art puts the artwork in the hands of a third party. Both the buyer and the artist value the work above any amount that can be declared. Art is often a one of a kind item with its own history and future. It is important to do all you can to protect the work and select a carrier that will consistently provide the service you seek. We will do our best to document any improvements we make as we continue to find better ways to ship boxes and packing materials to our artists. We will be exploring other methods such as high density tubes, ready-made boxes, and other carriers. ###
  2. Shipping Paintings - An Experiment ( part 1 / 2 ) CollexArt recently awarded Jeanne Golightly a Purchase Award for her painting "Long They Wait, Hope Series No. 17", a 30" x 40" Oil on Canvas. As part of the award we wanted to provide her with a shipping box and packing materials. The box needed to be sent from Maine to Georgia with a mockup frame the same size as the original painting. What follows is a two part article that documents what we learned about each step we took to determine if our shipping approach would work. This is NOT the correct, true and tried method of shipping similar paintings, but rather the approach we took with this experiment. The shipping steps and materials in this document are not a recommendation or a tried and true shipping method. If you incorporate any of the information from this article you do so at your own risk, knowing that none of this information has been previously tested, and came from our experiments. The Experiment The tried and true way to ship large paintings is to crate them in a wooden box and send them using a freight company. The only problem with this approach is that it can be very expensive when you are shipping just one or two paintings. As an experiment, we decided to ship a mockup 30" x 40" painting using an off-the-shelve corrugated carton box and packing materials. We shipped the box from Maine to Georgia using a parcel carrier. We decided that, if the box arrived in good condition, we would then proceed to ship the original painting back to Maine in the same box. Let's get started. 1. Tools and materials Here are the tools we used in this project. Pictured above are a tape dispenser, measuring tape, water spray bottle, T-Square, balance weight scale, scissors, utility knife and a scoring tool. Regular 1" tape, water-activated reinforced paper tape, heavy duty pressure sensitive tape, adhesive document pouches, fragile labels and artist tape. 2. Preparing a mockup 30" x 40" painting There are many box manufacturers. A simple online search will display the majority of the better known companies. Some of them offer literally 1000s of box styles and sizes. Some of them even specialize in art specific shipping boxes such as Masterpak below. The Masterpak solution looks great. We may opt for this solution in the future. Their titanStrongBox 45 x 35 x 3 fits a 30" x 40" item and as of February 2020 the cost delivered to us was about $200. Many non-specialized box manufacturers make boxes to ship mirrors, small LCD TVs and even art. The majority of them are side loading boxes like the one pictured below from ULINE. The above box is single wall carton rated at 275# with full over flap closure that in essence provides a double wall at the opened ends. The single wall #275 refers to bursting strength to withstand in this case up to 275 lbs/sq.in. of side wall pressure before bursting. ULINE per unit cost for side loading boxes is very reasonable, but they have a minimum order of 10. Unfortunately, we could not find a size that gave us enough extra spacing for our 30" x 40" test so we looked in Amazon and managed to find the box below which we purchased in a pack of 5. This box is large enough measuring 36" x 5" x 48," and gave us 4" of extra space at each end and 3" on the side. This box is also rated #275 just like the ULINE box. Another type of rating to look for in the box you buy is the Stacking Strength which is usually represented by ECT-##. This box is rated at 44lbs/linear inch of stacking weight before crushing and that is represented on the box by "ECT-44". The cost of each unit in a pack of 5 was about $15 per box but in a matter of a week it doubled (prices as of February 2020). If we use some of the boxes as a source for additional impact protection material as we did, a pack of 5 boxes will allow you to ship 2-3 individual frames. Now that we have the boxes purchased let's take a look at some of the packing materials. 3. Protecting the painting surface Before you put anything on the painting be absolutely sure the paint or varnish is completely dry. The last thing you want is the paint to act like glue against any surface. It is a good idea to create an acid free barrier between the painting and the packing materials. It is common to use glassine sheets in the art world to protect art objects and prints. We decided to do the same here, but we needed a big roll. For our experiment, we created a 30" x 40" frame, but instead of stretching a canvas we simply taped freezer paper sheets. The idea was that if fragile paper sheets made it to the destination intact, then canvas will do even better. Canson offers 48 Inch x 10 Yard Rolls as shown above. To adhere the Glassine we use 1/2" wide WOD CFTC6 Console Artist Tape to adhere one side of the glassine roll to the frame. We went all around the frame and taped the glassine sheet about 6" from the top. Next we needed to create a humidity barrier. We used a 24" roll of stretch plastic wrap to loosely wrap the frame. We did not want it to be too tight so that it would be easier to cut the wrap without damaging the painting. Doing it this way would also hopefully allow us to reuse the glassine sheet. Stretch plastic wrap is inexpensive and may be used in a variety of ways, but it is not an environmentally friendly method. We are continuing our research for a more environmentally friendly way to protect the contents from high humidity levels. Please note, that this is not supposed to be a waterproof solution and great care must be taken with this material when you have children nearby. 4. Wrapping the painting in bubble wrap We are going to use 1/2" Bubble Roll Wrap - 48" Wide x 65' long. The bubble wrap comes in a large box. We cut notches on the sides at the top of the box to support a carton tube that we ran through the core of the bubble wrap roll. This inexpensive setup allowed us to feed the material easily, requiring only a single person to do it. Notice the excess material at the ends. That came handy to fill the extra 4" of space at the ends. We wrapped the artwork so that each side would have 2" of bubble wrap (4 ply), and just like the glassine we taped the end about 6" past one of the edges. We prepared the cut edge with white tape as shown above and also taped the uncut bubble wrap directly underneath offset by about 1" or 2". This created a non-bubble edge surface that we could tape together with regular pressure sensitive tape, which would then allow us to later remove the tape without destroying the bubble wrap so that it can be re-used. To make it even easier to remove the taped edge, we added lint to the sticky side of the tape. Lint makes it less tacky and easier to remove. The easiest way to do this is to tape a large piece of tape to a piece of fabric and then removing it quickly a few times. Try it! 5. Creating a layer of corrugated carton all around the frame Before we boxed the painting we needed to add an impact and puncture resistant layer with corrugated carton sheets. The carton sheets we used came from a sacrificial side loading box. Notice the flaps are useful for wrapping the material around the edges (red dots). Pictured above are the top and bottom carton sheets taped together. This formed a strong and dimensionally stable unit that we then fit in the final box. 6. Sealing the box and adding extra padding Next we put the frame into the side-loaded box as shown below. The excess bubble wrap on the 48" side took care of providing a tight fit. However, the 36" side (width) did not have enough material for a tight fit. It required some extra cushioning such as additional bubble wrap or folded carton to provide added protection. Folded double carton provided a strong and adjustable padding material at the edges. We used small pieces of temporary tape to hold the double flaps closed in preparation for a more durable option. 7. Taping the box For added strength we used water activated paper reinforced tape like the roll shown below. In order to activate the glue side we used a water spray bottle. The atomizer metal spray bottle pictured below is what we used, but really any spray bottle will do a good job. You can even use a sponge to transfer water to the glue side of the paper tape. Here you can see we pre-cut the paper tape. After water spray is applied to the glue side. After applying several tapes and letting them dry, you will have a very strong seal. The advantage of this tape is that it bonds with the box as one. You will not be able to remove the tape without destroying the box. The reinforcement of the tape adds additional strength and dimensional stability to the box. We added pressure sensitive plastic tape on top to go the extra mile and protect the tape from humidity as shown above. 8. Labels Next we applied "Fragile" labels and an adhesive documents pouch to the box. Pictured above is the box ready to go. This is shipping experiment article 1 of 2. In the next article we will show you how this box arrived at its destination in Georgia and whether or not we used it to ship actual artwork back to Maine. We will also cover: Considerations Selecting a Carrier (Maine to Georgia) Creating Prepaid Labels and Sending them by Email Receiving the Artwork form Georgia Artwork Size Considerations Final thoughts
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